Imagine this: a two-level bus filled with cupcakes and coffee.
Well, sugar and caffeine lovers don’t have to imagine. They can experience this unique reality courtesy of Bettie’s Cakes, a cupcakery cafE in Saratoga Springs that has a double-decker bus parked in the parking lot of Hewitt’s on Western Avenue in Guilderland daily. The circa 1963 bus, straight from London, sells cupcakes, coffee and other hot beverages on the first level and houses a seating area on the second level.
`We wanted something that was totally different and unique we’re the only mobile cafE in the U.S. and can seat 28 on what we call ‘the skydeck,’` said co-owner Lorraine Murphy, who found the bus on Craigslist, picked it up from Los Angeles and attempted to drive it cross country before it broke down. `People notice [the bus] and we’ve gotten great exposure. We have companies wanting to hire us for promotional days at their businesses and will offer booking for birthday parties, college events, anything that might need us.`
Murphy owns Bettie’s Cakes with her husband, John; they opened the cafE at 454 Broadway just before Thanksgiving and the bus opened for business right before Christmas. They chose Hewitt’s because of its visibility from the street and its ability to reach another range of clients. The cafE embodies the spirit of the ’50s, with a black and white checkered floor, quirky furniture and a jukebox. Murphy said she wanted the cafE to rehash the values of that time period.
`It’s kind of that whole feeling of glamour and slower pace of life. We wanted to create a family environment, somewhere people could go to have quality time with the family, and there really wasn’t anything like that in Saratoga,` said Murphy. `We came up with the name Bettie because it was a popular name during the ’50s with famous faces like Betty Crocker, Betty Page. It means ‘beautiful girl.’`
Murphy said cupcakes are quite the trend, especially in metropolitan areas of the country, and are always fun to eat because customers can basically have their own mini cake in almost any flavor. Betties’ baker and decorator are both local to the area and create thousands of cupcakes a week, said Murphy. They also collaborate with Murphy at least weekly to come up with flavor ideas. Three featured flavors are rotated out each week and Red Velvet, Chocolate, Vanilla, Peanut Butter Cup and Cappuccino are permanently available.
`Our product is superior. We use all natural ingredients and they’re all made by hand; nothing mass produced like you’ll get at a grocery store,` said Murphy. `We try to be unique with our flavor choices, invent new ones and keep it fun. My favorite ice cream is black raspberry, so we made a cupcake that tasted just like that.`
But the cafE’s calling card might be the combination of a root beer float cupcake and an actual root beer float, made with soft serve ice cream and draft soda.
`They really go hand-in-hand,` said Murphy. `I’ve never heard of that [root beer float cupcake] and they’re definitely top sellers.`
Manager Andrea Yacaginsky said the cafE strives to present a fun but professional appearance, both in the atmosphere and cupcakes.
`We’re trying to work on getting all the cupcakes to have uniformity, so if you see a cookie dough cupcake in April and come back in July to get it again, it will look and taste exactly the same as you remember,` said Yacagnisky.
The cafE also makes custom cakes and takes personal cupcake orders. Over the Valentine’s Day season, they pumped out dozens of cupcakes that looked like a box of roses, and Murphy said parents from around the country call in orders for their children at Skidmore College.
A Cookie Monster cupcake is the cafE’s latest tasty creation, quickly gaining in popularity. It’s a cupcake with blue frosting, a cookie on top and fondant eyes.
Murphy said so far, Betties has gotten an amazing response and attracted fans from as far as Kentucky. She said she and her husband are already looking for other locations to expand and always welcome feedback and suggestions.
`We really want to be a part of the community. We have a flavor suggestion board and people can visit our Web site [www.bettiescakes.com] or our Facebook fan page,` said Murphy.
Some flavors that frequently pop up at Betties are s’mores, cookies and cream, pumpkin, key lime, carrot, Boston creme, Twinkie, mint chocolate chip and tiramisu. A full menu is available on their Web site. The cafE is open seven days a week and the bus is open every day except Monday.